What is the role of setting in Lorca's Blood Wedding?

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Blood Wedding is set in rural Spain, apparently around the year 1900. The action of the play grows out of the attitudes of the simple farming people working the land in the remote, barren countryside.

Garcia Lorca alludes briefly to the differences between rural and urban Spain in the wedding scene, where some of the guests are "from the seacoast" and are frightened of the horses. However, it's even more striking that the concepts of honor and revenge at the center of the plot are cherished by the relatively "unsophisticated" people who live in the countryside. The Mother cannot let go of her anguish over the killings of her husband and one of her sons at the hands of Leonardo's family. This isn't to say that in a more modern setting a woman would simply forget the past. But the raw, desperate passion of the story is more typical of the older world of the peasantry, especially in the Mediterranean countries.

Perhaps, however, gender issues are even more crucial to the story. Among the farming people in Europe at this time, marriages were arranged, and a young woman often had little say about the man chosen for her. In Blood Wedding the Bride still loves Leonardo, her former suitor. She willingly runs off with him, deserting the Bridegroom in the midst of the wedding celebration. The final catastrophe, in which the two men kill each other, is not unexpected in the patriarchal society of that time and place with the requirements it placed upon men as well as women.

Elsewhere in his oeuvre, notably in the tragedy Yerma, Garcia Lorca focuses on the frustration of women forced to comply with society's demands. The poetic qualities of his language, especially in those passages in Blood Wedding written in verse, have an old-world feel about them, and the setting in time and place corresponds to the raw and deep passions of the characters and the way they speak. The characters are in some sense symbols or representations of primal human types. That none of them are given names, with the exception of Leonardo, and the fact that a "Beggar Woman" represents Death, are perhaps the most striking evidence of the universal meanings embedded in both the characterizations and plot of the tragedy.

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Lorca sets Blood Wedding in a small Spanish village in the years leading up to the Civil War. He uses this location and the real-life tragic events on which the play is based as a vehicle for a radical social and political critique. As an outspoken socialist, Lorca is scathing of what he sees as the backward, reactionary nature of life in rural Spain. He wants to peel back the idealized outer layer of bucolic existence presented to the outside world to reveal an altogether more disturbing reality in which outmoded concepts of honor are regarded as more important than the individual human lives they frequently destroy.

One of the play's main themes is deception; specifically, how prevailing social convention leads...

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people into making false choices and deceiving themselves. The unnamed bride, for example, only chooses to marry as a way of suppressing her desires for Leonardo, the man she truly loves. In that sense, the constricting social setting is crucial as it encourages the bride and others to live a lie as a means of conforming to society's norms and standards.

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In Lorca's Blood Wedding, each scene takes place in a set that has a different color. The color serves to set the tone of the scene. For example, the first scene (Act I, Scene I), in which the Groom and his mother speak about the wedding, takes place in a yellow room. The mood is still hopeful at this point of the play, and the color of the room is bright. Similarly, the scenes that follow in the beginning of the play are set in bright rooms. The second scene in the first act, in Leonardo's house, takes place in a pink room. Act I, Scene 3 takes place in the Bride's house, which has a pink cross made of flowers, white walls, and blue vases.

In Act II, however, the setting becomes more dream-like and muted, as the action of the play moves towards tragedy. For example, in Act II, Scene 2, the exterior of the Bride's house is described as grey-white and cold blue and sombre in tone. Act III, Scene I, when the final tragedy unfolds, takes place in gloomy nighttime woodland. The nighttime is occasionally broken by a silvery glow of the moon.  Act III, Scene II takes place in a white room without any shadows, replicating the feel of a church as the Mother confronts the Bride about the Bride's role in the tragedy.

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